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Workplace sexual abuse questions


Understanding workplace sexual abuse


Sexual abuse at work is a topic that can be uncomfortable to talk about openly, especially for the victims. That is why many cases of sexual harassment at the workplace go unreported as the victims choose to suffer in silence rather than face embarrassment. Today, not only women, but also men face sexual abuse at the workplace, and for those people there are answers out there.. Getting answers to questions regarding your legal rights as an employee when faced with sexual abuse is possible when you ask an employment lawyer on JustAnswer. Moreover, these legal experts can help you understand the different sexual abuse laws and even help you combat gender harassment. Following here are some of examples of sexual abuse questions and the answers to go alongside them.


In Iowa, if a 16 year old faces sexual abuse from a 24 year old co-worker, what can you do if the minor has had consensual sex with them when she was 15?


According to the laws in Iowa, even if a minor (up to the age of 15) had consensual sex with an adult, it could be treated as a case of third degree sexual harassment, because the Iowa Code’s Section 709.4 states that a person can be charged with Sexual Abuse of the third degree if the victim is aged between fourteen and fifteen years, and any of the following conditions hold true:

  • The victim and the accused are both members of the same household.
  • The accused is holding a position of authority over the victim and he/she makes use of this authority in order to coerce the victim to submit.
  • The accused is older than the victim by five or more years.

If these criteria are met, then you can consider pressing criminal charges against the person in question. Continued harassment can be reported to her employer, and if it is the case, it can also be stated that the accused is abusing others at work as well. If the employer fails to take action, then they can be held liable for the actions and words of the abusive employee who is creating a “hostile environment” at the workplace.



Also, if the employer fails to take cognizance of the issue at this point, you can file a formal complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you have further questions on what your rights are and what action you can take, ask an Employment Lawyer on JustAnswer for guidance regarding sexual abuse and gender harassment in the workplace.


In Alabama, if I am being sued for sexual harassment by a former employee, and I no longer work for the company, can I be held liable? Am I obligated to cooperate with the investigation?


In such a situation you would normally have a valid defense against the complaint. Also, if the charges against you are substantiated, it can be your employer who would be held vicariously liable for your actions. Many of the courts in Alabama reject the assertion that the liability for sexual abuse in the workplace can be placed on individual supervisors on a personal basis.


I have been demoted based on an accusation of sexual abuse by a co-worker's fiancée. Things said in jest, were taken out of context and were complained about six weeks later. What are my liabilities, if any?


As per the law, even comments made in jest can usually be acted upon. There may not be much that can be done in this case if it can be proved that the comments were actually made, and were abusive in nature. Although your colleague may have laughed it off, and you may not have meant what you said, these factors aren’t going to be enough on their own to protect you from legal ramifications.

Your demotion and/or termination by your employer suggests that they are acting on the complaint because if they failed to take action, they would be held equally responsible under EEOC rules. Your best recourse under the circumstances may be to hire an attorney.



My husband was accused of sexual harassment and was fired without a chance to defend himself. His former boss wouldn't even tell him what he'd been accused of, or when it supposedly happened. Is this legal?


If your husband works in an “at will” employment state without an agreement that prevents him from being terminated without cause, and if he isn’t a member of an employee union, he may have no legal right to continued employment. His employer can usually terminate his services for no reason in an “at will” employment state. This could explain why he did not get any chance to defend himself. If you have any follow up questions about your rights and sex abuse laws, feel free to ask an Employment Lawyer on JustAnswer.


What can be done if repeated complaints of sexual abuse at workplace made to employers are not acted upon?


Generally, if an employer does not act upon a sexual abuse complaint that he or she has received, the complainant can approach the local Equal Employment Opportunities Office (EOCC) and file a grievance with respect to the same. Also, one should file all the evidence that he or she has with the EOCC. The bigger the paper trail, the better.

If the EOCC finds fault with the employer, they may choose to investigate this case themselves. Otherwise, they could issue a formal “right to sue” letter that will allow the employee in question sue their employer directly via an attorney’s services. The specifics will depend, to some extent, on your state’s laws regarding sexual abuse, as well as the state’s views on harassment in the workplace. and how gender harassment at workplace is looked upon by the state he is employed in.

One often faces difficulties when he or she is subjected to sexual abuse and gender harassment at the workplace. There can even be instances when the complaints filed are not entirely true. When in doubt, ask the Experts on JustAnswer and get the answers you need, without the wait.

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